The iRobot family of vacuums has been around the longest, likely the name many people make synonymous with robot vacuums. We are the same way. From a price point perspective, the iRobot Roomba 690 vacuum would be considered a mid-priced product but can also be on the lower end of this price range when there are good promotions. Our overall impression of the iRobot Roomba 690 is that this is an excellent product for the money. There are a couple of features included in the higher-priced models. Still, quite honestly, the only “real” thing that we considered different is a slightly lower quality filter in this model compared to the 980, which costs $400 more than the 690.
The overall reaction of the iRobot Roomba 690 is that it’s a good solid product that gets a little smarter over time. The Roomba 690 has some of the same issues that the more expensive 980 has in that there are some issues with dark rugs and shag carpeting. The dark rug issue seems to be a big problem with the entire family of iRobot products, so if you have a dark rug or carpet (or even think that you do), hit the back button and read another review. One of two things seems to happen with dark rugs. One issue is that the vacuum can ‘think’ that there’s a filthy spot and could get stuck trying to clean the location for a very long time. The other, somewhat more common problem is that a ‘cliff’ detector in the iRobot vacuums and the dark rugs seem to indicate that it’s a cliff. The vacuum won’t even venture into the darkness – just in case it falls off this non-existent cliff.
See our Best Robot Vacuums to Buy
The good news for everyone else is that the 690 works pretty well. The vacuum picks up dog hair, dust balls and can even pick up small objects like cereal, so the vacuum works well from that perspective. The vacuum needs to get trained and will get smarter over time. Many users have commented that the pattern seems erratic after looking at carpet trails, but it will go back the next day to pick up what it missed if it misses something. Remember, with a robot vacuum, you can be vacuuming your house every day so things will be cleaner, and you don’t have to think about what you dump out of your vacuum in a weekly cleaning because you’re now able to do it seven times in that span.
Most of the users that we interviewed had some constructive advice on these products. You have to remember things you typically have to think about when using a hand-pushed vacuum, but you have to think about it when you’re not actively vacuuming. You will need to keep things like phone charging cables on the floor. If there are stray threads on rugs, you will need to keep them trimmed as they can get clogged in the vacuum. You have to remember it’s a vacuum; it’s not like Rosie, the maid from the Jetsons.
Our bottom line is that this vacuum is an excellent value for the money. For most people, this vacuum is perfect for what you want. We don’t see the need to fork over 2 or 3 times the cost of this vacuum for the 980. Unless you have dark rugs, this is probably your best pick.
Be sure to check out our Robot Vacuum Buyers Guide